Bravely Default Demo Impressions
Bravely Default is a game that I’ve seen a lot of hype over. People are saying they have spent more time playing this demo then they have full priced AAA releases. That’s a lot of play time, considering your limited to 30 plays. But everywhere I look for gaming news, the last week or so has been all about Bravely Default. So, I finally decided to sit down and give this one a try. I figured, no harm either way right?
Bravely Default, also known as Bravely Default: Flying Fairy in Japan, was released as a “spiritual successor” to the 2010 Final Fantasy: The 4 heroes of light, although the game has no connection to that game outside of using the same engine. Japan initially saw a release in 2012, but then got an updated version, called For the sequel, that the rest of the world got shortly thereafter, with a North American release soon, in February. The game sold huge numbers in Japan, a series is already planned with the idea of possibly a new game per year, and even a browser based game already in development. Square Enix has big plans it seems, and as it stands Bravely Default seems to be on every gamers mind with its pending release. But, I remained skeptical. Throughout the years I have learned to not let hype guide what I decide to buy, so with news of the Demo hitting the Eshop, I decided to check it out for myself.
My first impressions were very simple. This is a Final Fantasy game. And in a lot of ways, it is. A return to form might be the best wording for it, as this game definitely has traces of its Final Fantasy heritage. Each character can choose from a large selection of jobs, each with many different skills and traits. Characters have both a regular level and a job level, both which level up in battle from EXP and job points. Different classes have different skills and affinity for weapons and armor, but there doesn’t appear to actually be a limit (at least in the demo) of what each class can wield. You can duel wield for additional attacks, but weaker damage as an example. Some classes do that better, but any class can do it. You can also use a second set of class skills, outside of the job you’re using, and again, there appears to be no limit on the combinations. Knights can use magic, Red Mages can use the Jump skill, and so on. It really all depends on how much time you the player are willing to put in grinding job levels, but the individual level of the character allows you to push forward and grind in more difficult areas, which nets more job points. From what I can find, it seems jobs unlock as you play through the story (though I could be wrong), so there is a good chance that you will never be satisfied with what classes your team is using, so you’ll change all of them. And of course, summons and limit breaks are abound, as is the standard. It’s good stuff to be sure, but I’ll be the first to admit, it’s really just the same system we have seen before, in fact it seems like they took the job system of 3 and mixed it with 6. Not a bad thing mind you, just what came to mind as I played.
What stands out is the Brave and Default commands. Each character can either use the default command to block and store turns, or brave points. By using Brave, you can spend said brave points to essentially give the same character multiple moves. While you can save up brave points to take up to 4 actions in a row with one character, you don’t have to. You can just dip into the negatives with your brave points to take those actions right away if you want, but you have to wait for your BP to equal zero before that character can take action again. It seems confusing at first, but it’s actually rather simple. Because your BP always starts at zero in combat, you can use those extra moves to demolish monsters in a single turn, netting bonuses to Exp, JP and gold. I can’t think of a RPG system quite like it, although as soon as I say that, I’m sure someone will correct me. But as it stands, combat, the meat and potato’s of many RPGS, is really solid here.
I don’t even know what to call that thing.
Then, there is the social interaction of Streetpass, which quite frankly, is a whole other bag of worms. You can summon friends from your 3DS friends list in combat, which according to my research gets stronger as you use them. Then there is Abilink, which actually allows friends to borrow others friends job levels. I can’t find any evidence to say if it is permanent or temporary, but I have to imagine its only temporary. And the big one is Final Fantasy Farmville, I mean rebuilding Norende. It’s a game long mini game that tasks players with rebuilding a town, which takes hundreds of hours to do on your own. You set your villager up for a job, and then you walk away… for 10 hours! A little like those city building games on mobile devices. However, by using streetpass to build up the population of your town with your friends, you can actually speed up the process. Of course there are special things for sale that unlock as you play this mini game that are only available through it, so in order to get the best stuff, you better have a lot of time, or many friends who all own a 3DS. Something about this whole system seems weird to me, almost like they want you to brow beat your friends into buying this game, just to increase sales. Still, it’s a unique approach to streetpass functionality, and doesn’t actually feel to out of place, given the idea behind it.
I never understood Farmville. Until Now….
I have to admit, having spent about 8+ hours on the demo, I can see what all the fuss is about. It reeks of old school RPG, with some new age functions thrown in. Really, I think that’s what it’s going to boil down to. How big are you on Old school RPGs? I can’t really comment too much on the story, as the demo does little to showcase it, so unless that turns out to be garbage, I think you’re looking at a very solid portable RPG here. I’m not totally sold on the hype however. Don’t get me wrong, it’s solid, and I’m sure RPG grind maniacs will find something to enjoy, but something just seems missing to get me hyped up for it. Maybe I’m in the wrong there, regardless; if you’re a RPG junkie, check out the demo if you haven’t.